Today one of my players forgot her practice clothes for our first day of practice so I lent her mine. She borrowed my sports bra without batting an eye. That’s when I started thinking about the unique nature of the relationships I have with my girls. We certainly aren’t “friends” because friends don’t yell at each other for not working hard. However, we don’t have your typical player/coach relationship. This was especially evident on our annual team retreat this past weekend when:
-the girls found a pack of cigarettes and hid them in my purse.
– or when they read all my sent and received text messages.
– or when they said, “Oooooooooo Coachy!” whenever they saw a good-lookin man in his thirties. (Every single stinkin time they have seen me talking to a male, no matter the age or married or not, I see them snickering and raising eye brows at me.)
– or when they teased me about my pot-smoking male friend from high school until I told them to “shut your faces.” For the record, I did not smoke and Trent so kindly informed them about this past friendship. Also, I may need to find a new catch phrase since a student was annoying me yesterday and I also told him to shut his face. He looked a bit more shocked than my girls.
– or when they laughed at my wet, sandy butt until I sat on them.
– or when they secretly video taped me singing my heart out to an old Leann Rimes song.
– or when they fell to the floor laughing when I stumbled.
– or when they hid in my trunk to scare me.
Ours is a relationship founded on trust. These girls know that I love them. Even though I can be intense at times and might scream at them for not “catching the freakin ball,” they know that I care more about their relationship with Christ than their skills with the basketball. They’ve seen me unsuccessfully try to hold back tears and they’ve heard me unsuccessfully try to hold back farts. There is certainly trust here. Sometimes I feel like their mother. I especially felt this way when I heard myself say, “We’ll get there when we get there so stop asking.”
.And even though I was slightly appalled when someone asked if Kari was my daughter, I do appreciate how, like a mother, I get to watch my girls grow and mature and experience things for the first time. I love being in the position to expose them to new experiences and pass on knowledge I’ve been given over the years.
Here’s what they learned this weekend:
1. How to make ugly faces and do weird poses. I continually am teaching them new ways to be ugly and what I love about these girls is that the embrace the ugliness. They don’t try to be “cute and goofy” as many girls do. They also know that I appreciate weirdness and are maturing in their abilities to pose awkwardly. They make me so proud.
2. How to play flag football. I am a certainly no football expert. I only recently learned that the yellow line for the first down is only on the tv screen. However, I do know the basics and one of my favorite moments of the weekend was watching them make up plays and catch interceptions and rip the flags off and laugh and cheer and huddle. I acted as ref and as the “yellow line” for the teams and watched in wonder as God painted the sky with hues I’ve never seen before. He stretched clouds across the sky which He then turned orange and pink and then purple. He also made my jaw drop in wonder and eyes brim with tears because I felt like I often do with my nephews- I felt my heart literally swelling inside of my chest. It’s like I have an increased capacity to love these girls- more than I previously thought possible. Here they are playing and huddling.
3. How to appreciate God’s beauty and marvel at His creation. I often made them pause playing to notice the sunset. Driving home we were passing by my favorite part of the drive leaving Santa Barbara where the cliffs fall on one side of the freeway and the waves crash on the other. I had my typical jaw-dropped expression while Kari, sitting shotgun, was texting away. “Would you please stop pretending to be popular and appreciate this view, Kari?” Being the sarcastic pastor’s kid that she is, she sat on the edge of her seat with huge eyes until I told her she could relax. Such a brat. How could one not marvel at this sunset though and acknowledge that our Creator is beyond comprehension.
4. How to take an amazing jumping picture.
I can’t take credit for this pose. My dear friend Lindsay
taught me how on the beaches of Mozambique and I’ve been doing this jump ever since. It looks much cooler with 11 girls jumping at once.
5. How to build a fire. I actually don’t know how to. I had meant to google it but never did. Luckily, my God-send of an assistant, Kelsi, knew. However, she didn’t have to because I built the fire the same way I did last year. I looked clueless. This was not intentional and I think it is merely the nature of “friendly fellow-campers” to help out a bunch of girls. For the second year in a row, our neighbor provided the wood and lit the fire. (Last year our neighbor broke off a piece of that magical burning wood and gave it to me. I said, “Thanks. Wow, what kind of bread is this?”)
6. How to lie and play mafia. Some had never had the campfire experience and it was so fun to teach them Mafia and Kelsi taught us “Wink Em.” Both involve killing your teammates and then lying about it and trying to figure out who is lying and who is being truthful. They tell me I get a bit too intense when I play these games and we were asked by our fire-building neighbors to keep it down. Whoops. Sometimes I forget that I am the “chaperon” and have to be the responsible one.
7. How to worship without inhibitions. Taking the girls to church was another major highlight. They are used to very conservative churches- the kind where you are weird if you close your eyes during worship. So I knew this church would be a bit of a shock for them as the entire congregation belted out songs of love, raised hands high and often and cheered during worship. When I asked them what they thought about the service afterwards, they said that it was so neat to see so many people so “into it.” It certainly is easier to get “into it”, to lose inhibitions, to stop noticing people around and simply stand before the Savior with a lifted voice and lifted arms when you know that no one is noticing you.
8. How to make the most of the college experience. Since I talk so often and so highly of my experience at Westmont, I had to take them to see the campus. When we walked to the admissions building they joked that I went to school at a castle and asked if they served tea and crumpets. My “tour” of the campus was not a typical tour. I didn’t know what the new buildings were but I took them to the spots where I had peed my pants and where I had told the president of the school that I was good when he asked me WHAT I was doing. I showed them where I had done my devotions and where I had pulled pranks like filling a friend’s water bottle left in his open car with my pee. Here we are in front of the prayer chapel:
I also taught them the basics of eating in a college cafeteria:
– how to gain the freshman 15 (20 in my case) by eating BOTH of the options for each meal and ending each meal with a hearty bowl of soup. Cookie soup that is.
– how to spot people in “the zone” trying to mask their awkwardness and fear of having no friends to sit with by slowly walking through the zone, covertly scanning the cafeteria. At one point during lunch, one girl yelled a little too loudly, “Coach! I see one! She’s in the zone!”
– how to put salt in your friends’ food. NEVER leave your plate unattended.
9. How to pray for your friends and hold them accountable.
Every foot of the Westmont campus is full of memories and most of those involve Iron Well
. I’ve often told the girls about this group and modeled for them what it looks like to pray for a friend. I prayed for each specific girl at different times throughout the retreat and talked about importance of setting goals and then having teammates who will help you reach those goals by holding you accountable. Here’s one spot on campus we stopped to pray:
10. How to ride a 6-man bike. We caused quite the commotion laughing and screaming as we went charging down the bike paths of Santa Barbara racing and high-fiving strangers and running each other off the road. It was a bit of a circus and I’m sure several people thought, “those girls need some supervision.”
My friend Angie
introduced me to the idea of “10 on the 1oth.” The idea is that every month on the 10th, you post a list of 10. I hadn’t been planning on making a list of 10 but since this post turned into a list and it happened to be November 10th, I’m taking it as a sign and am doing it from now on. Thanks for the idea Angie.
I’m so excited about this season with these girls. Clearly they are goofy and weird and fun and I am so blessed to be able to teach them different “how to’s” and point them to Jesus. We might not be the biggest or strongest or fastest team, but we will certainly laugh often and grow as players and followers of Christ.